emergency weblog; or: epersonae; or: elaine nelson

in which I write about stuff

drupal con

posting from the drupal con in association with oscon.

Categories: conference notes, General, Professional

this has been edited, including the addition of a summary, and with the removal of some personal felbercarb. but I am leaving it relatively rambling, as that’s my style.

*summary*
* oregon is a kick@ss place for open source. (sigh.)
* the demos were awful.
* the bryght guys are very dot-com (no offense, boris)
* drupal is the new swiss-army-chainsaw
* I did actually understand the process for doing a multi-site, single-install, but I still don’t quite grok it. (Derek was muy helpful.)
* I love the idea of the ecosystem…and there would seem to be lots of opportunities there, both for the college and for myself personally.
* if I can get the kinks worked out, Drupal would be an excellent choice for us. that may be a bigger if than I’d thought, though.

had lunch with a couple of FGPDX people, which was a really excellent experience. and good food…I always have good food in Portland.

it’s dark, with the reflections of laptop screens giving faint illumination to people’s faces. I might move the laptop to my lap, as this angle is going to kill my wrists. yep, this is better.

talked briefly to a guy from a place named reallinks in cleveland.

nate from psu is going to talk…I saw him speak at evergreen about a service learning/gis project, if I remember correctly. (need to look in paper journal!)

wants to make more partnerships with oscon in future years…ah, that would be kewl. using drupal in experimental projects.

oregon is rich place for open source because of open source lab in corvallis with osu. intro scott from osu. open source gaining momentum in oregon as elsewhere. linus is here, hp, ibm have research laps. os labs happy to enable communities like this where real work is done, innovation is happening.

drupal server was shared with other sites, strained infrastructure, os labs offered place for their server, community raised $11k for infrastructure. happy to help drupal community.

bryght demo and civicspace demo — versions of civicspace. some goofiness with placement of equipment, weird down time.

oh, he started the [bryght] demo…but he’s talking too quietly. somebody told him to speak up. they’re selling the ease of use. they’re just going to 4.6 drupal as their core.

example at geekytraveller.com, 2010.dailyvancouver.com, urbanvancouver.com.

they need template designers, people to send them to…more people are asking than can be helped.

that’s the end of the demo?

q: ecommerce module? yes, will work with paypal, future to merchant accounts. but that’s the opposite direction of what this guy wants.

zach from civicspace, drupal distro geared towards grassroots organizations. talking through the install, which I tried last week.

q: role of civicspace, relationship to drupal? “distribution” — core of drupal, plus modules. fill the need of grassroots organization to do organizing online.

q: does drupal support multithreading? spread across hardware? not like java…limitation of PHP. usually scale layers underneath.

back to the install, wizard to walk through basic setup. these people are crummy at presenting.

q: service or software? we don’t provide hosting, but connect with other hosts using civicspace.

comment: problem with timeout on slow server.

attach location metadata built-in, plus mass mail system, mailing list. these are also available as modules for drupal.

okay, the bryght guys are starting to annoy.

q: location, granularity? as granular as zipcodes get. gps coordinates for center of zip code area. can be possible to add other geodata thru api. germany & canada are likely to be easiest. example: skatespot.org

drees is creator/project lead of drupal from belgium. getting phd in java?! (he was the one who answered C’s question.)

content management system (ready-to-use tool for publishing) + web application framework (use as a base for other web applications)

free! international! community!

funny slide, list of many features. jeebus.

two axis graph showing kinds of drupal usage: static sites, few contributors -> many contributors, interactive. blobs of kinds of usage. magazines, intranets, campaigns, discussion, etc. most are in top-right: many and interactive.

intra-community & inter-community features. forums, pm, blogs, etc. vs. rss import/export, dist. authentication.

history. 1999 he started it as a message board for his dorm. then made it public, shifted towards internet, adding features & functionality. became more of an ecosystem/community. I missed a question…something about backwards compatibility? if it can be better, then we’ll break the api, tho never the data.

15,000 downloads/month. 3 million page views/month. 200+ people who have cvs access.

brief summary about gnu/gpl. freedoms to: run, study, modify, share, and if you share a modified version, then you give others those same freedoms. and os benefits: cost, no lock-in, increased self-reliance, tendency to adhere to open standards, easy to evaluate & test, community. yep. that’s the happy.

free doesn’t mean no costs: may pay for customization, development, SLA, internal knowledge.

3 challenges.

# strong demand for developers, not always able to route people to resources, so need to foster a sustainable ecosystem. (recuiting/training, marketplace for developers?)
# novice users get confused. want to attract usability experts, encourage specialized distros/hosting for specialized environments.
# growing community needs resources, and thus a legal entity to donate to, and to protect the brand. create a drupal foundation?

in all points, fostering the ecosystem is the way to answer the challenges.

q: what is sharing? explained in the license itself, as distribution. if you give someone a copy, or make it available for download…but you don’t have to share. “I’m not a lawyer.”

q: what about the name? when they moved to the internet, wanted to use the name dorp.org because it means village in dutch, but accidentally transposed letters. and drupal means drop in dutch. “thought it was a funny name”

q: new person to drupal, etc.: documentation is very poor. are there people doing more about that? yes. created a documentation team, working hard on reworking drupal handbooks. books being written, too, should be available in next six mos. comment: opportunity for higher-ed folks, then, to help? yes. something out of perdue, helping with open source documentation. (what is that group?) audience member says that one will be available in November…books on demand low-volume publishing?

flows into community panel….

q (Tim): what if I wanted to send usability contacts? go to drupal.org/contact and on day 2 will be presentation from civicspace and usability work they are doing. comment from audience: expanding horizon of what usability expert looks like might help expand that group. because it’s so flexible, (adrian, install master) what’s usable for one group is totally useless or unusable for another. growing multiple ecologies.

http://drupaled.org/

break.

panel discussion, the ecology. mitch gore, designer/user, lynn s (?) web/drupal developer, andrew hoppen, civicspace, boris mann, bryght.

lynn: what does ecology of drupal mean? benign parasite, but does a lot of evangelizing, which is the role of consultants, etc…completely maxed out with drupal clients. where she sees improvement: documentation. she doesn’t like to write them, nobody likes to write them.

mitch: one of lynn’s powerusers…early photoshop maven. usability! key stumbling block. don’t want to present litany of complaints, because it’s been a great boon…but…documentation, clear understanding of what these things are and do, relationship between drupal & 3rd party groups, etc. worked with the deanspace people, with enthusiasm, but don’t even know the questions to ask. developers have to do the heavy lifting in creating a product that’s easy to use, “sailor-proof.”

andrew: also started with dean campaign. not just the free, but where the users are control of their own whatever. nonprofit filling gaps, some in development, some in evangelizing, some in connecting, creating community. help people help each other.

boris: about bryght, started last june. has theoretical technical background, but more of a jumping up and down evangelizing person. started company to help people more easily get to powerful tools. (but jeebus christ on a crutch they’re spendy. $40/mo?) needs more community: more users than developers. there’s money to be made! (hm.) when you outgrow your current blogging system, then you can come to drupal.

Publish and subscribe

lists.drupal.org

gathering requirements

get together with other folks interested in the same thing. Bryght has funding to build some of these solutions, push-button. A year of deploying, working it out.

They missed a guy (derek?) with his hand up.

Somebody said it looked cluttered, admin side. (I’d agree) Drees wants to create a mechanism for users to provide feedback, speeding up interaction between developers and users. Mitch says it’s gotten better, but finding the answer to a question is hard, knowing where you are, tho it’s gotten better.

Boris: Developers are too busy to hang out in the forums. Hard-core documentation people, but not enough. 10-15 more would be able to answer questions in tracker, etc.

lynn: biggest site is ?new homemaker? — core audience is housewives, needs to make sure there aren’t too many options. Brings readers along with her as she adds features.

Boris wants people to write up best practices…and drupal has high page rank!

Audience comment: cms market is high-end, big co’s spend lots of money on training. And this market tends to get more and more complex. Need to … lost that thought…

Human-computer interface guidelines?

Drupal channel, drupaldocs.org

learn from other communities? WP has kick-ass documentation. Yep. Need more f2f communication, meetup-style.

Thinking mambo v. drupal….

what about desktop, ajax, fads?

Brandedthoughts.uk.co

this guy keeps coming back to freaking ajax, even when someone else is talking about something else. Learning one thing at a time.

I ended up bailing on the 2nd half, because I didn’t feel like I was going to get anything out of it.

I did, however, have three good conversations before I left:
# Bill from the news tribune.
# Julian Pietras, the head of academic computing at evergreen. good chat about drupal in the .edu environment, and open source as “the right thing to do”
# Derek from REALinks, who finally worked me thru the multiple sites/one install thing, and I understand the bit that stymied me before. I still don’t know if I can *do* anything about it, but at least I understand. something to experiment with later, I think.

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2 Responses to “drupal con”

  1. Boris Mann says:

    Hey, great notes — thanks for this. The person from Evergreen is Julian Pietras, I believe. I won’t link to this if you want to write up something else, but let me know if you post it elsewhere.

    Thanks for attending.

  2. Elaine says:

    I think you’re right, thanks for the comment…I’ll let you know when I have something more coherent written down.